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From seal pups and kangaroo joeys to zebra foals and baby lemurs, all animals were once animal babies that ate, played and slept in different ways. Sometimes animal babies look very different from their adult parents. For example, fawns, or baby deer, have small white spots on their back. Most animal babies are also much smaller than their parents. A kangaroo joey is even small enough for its mother to carry it in her front pouch, though it will come out to eat and play.
Animal babies love to play. Some, like chimpanzees, have even been known to make silly faces at one another. A fun way to play and laugh with your child is to hold up a mirror so you can easily see both your faces. Then make all kinds of silly expressions by wiggling your eyebrows, pursing your lips, or sticking out your tongue. Soon you both will be giggling at each other’s funny faces.
With their long, graceful, striped bodies, tigers are beautiful looking animals. The amazing pictures in Zoobies Tigers show inspiring photos of how tigers look and act. Trigger your child’s imagination by prompting them to move and play like a tiger does. They can crawl on their hands and knees, hiding and roaming stealthily around furniture. As they pretend to be on the prowl, they can also make snarling and growling sounds like a tiger. Stretching like a tiger feels pretty good too! All you have to do is extend your right arm out in front of you like a big claw and stretch your left leg behind you at the same time. Repeat the stretch with your left and arm and your right leg. Then curl up in a ball like a sleeping tiger.
After your child is done imitating the tigers in the pictures, use new and expressive words to describe them. Talk about the color, size, and shape of each tiger in every picture. Count the number of stripes you see on a tiger’s face and look at the color of its eyes. Compare the different patterns, sizes, and colors you see in Zoobies Tigers to other objects your child plays with throughout the day.
Playing outside can be important to your child’s health. Outdoor activities such as family bike rides or walks through the park not only keep them active and fit, but allow them to have fun! Make up playful races and games to enjoy in the grass. Include plenty of lighthearted jumping, shuffling or tumbling, just like the bear cubs in this month’s Zoobies Bears. In fact, using such words such as shuffle, tumble, and tiptoe, rather than just run or walk, during playtime is a great way to boost your child’s language development and vocabulary at a young age.
Zoobies Bears also shows your child the many different foods bears eat. Ask your child if there are any types of food on their dinner plate that bears also eat. Then use different words to describe them, like sticky, juicy, sweet, or crunchy. Continue to use descriptive words throughout each day’s activities and events. When it’s time for a rest, build your child a cozy, bear-like den on the floor out of blankets and pillows. Use even more interesting words by telling your child a richly detailed story.
Zoobies Turtles shows your toddler what turtles like to do. For example, a turtle pokes his head out when he wants to eat, and pulls it back in when he wants to sleep. To engage your toddler, try using hand movements to imitate a turtle pulling his head in and out, and talk about the colors and patterns on the turtle.
As you shop, try using new and interesting words to describe what you see. Some foods are round and bumpy (oranges), smooth and long (bananas), prickly (pineapples), hard and dry (coconuts), cold and wet (broccoli), and so on. It’s amazing how we can boost our little one’s vocabulary as we fill our shopping cart!
You can also try this twist on Hide and Seek. Show you child a familiar object, such as a stuffed animal or toy car. Then tell your child to close his eyes as you hide the object. Think of “just right” places—not too hard, not too easy—such as behind a couch, in a bookcase, on top of a counter, or under a table. When your child is ready, hide more and more objects. For some extra fun, have your child hide the object for you to find!
Playing around is a terrific way to get our children smiling. We make like elephants and march around the living room. We flap our ears. We even bend forward and sway our arms like a trunk. Don’t forget to let out a scream: terooot! Letting ourselves go makes for great silly time with our children.
Reading to a toddler is a launch pad for learning beyond the book. Children who are exposed to a rich vocabulary early on learn more words. Zoobies Elephants gives us lots of engaging material to talk about. We like pointing to parts of the elephant’s body as we say the words. It’s fun, too, to use an expressive voice as we read the simple text. Try wiggling your finger up and down when reciting the verse in Zoobies aloud. Every time our children make a sound, we can repeat the sound to mimic a conversation. These simple interactive experiences will help boost children’s language development.
We think of reading as a sedentary activity, but Zoobies Tigers delights by sound and motion–not the technological kind, but the play-along-and-use-your-imagination kind!
Toddlers love lowering their voices and “shh”ing to creep along with the prowling tiger, especially when the growling tiger on the very next page lets them let loose with a roar. And later on, when tigers are stretching, creeping, running, and leaping, it’s surprising how well these motions can be imitated–even from the confines of a car seat or a lap.
In the playtime section of the Zoobies & You pages in the back, there are ideas for making these motions even more dramatic and engaging. There are ideas, too, for using Zoobies Tigers to point out shapes and colors, and for pushing the observations made in the book beyond its pages and into real life. We’d love to hear about the creative ways your little one has enjoyed Zoobies!
On page 18 of the current issue of Zoobies Turtles, you’ll find a fun turtle poem that can easily be made into a hand game using the instructions at the bottom of the page. Using your thumb, you can illustrate to your child how a turtle pokes his head out of, and back into his shell.
Hand games associated with rhymes are valuable activities that are important to a child’s development and learning. They can assist with developing hand-eye coordination and with a child’s development of fine motor skills. They can also be fun ways to learn about animals! In fact, there are a number of animal-based nursery rhymes that have hand games, or “fingerplays” that go along with them. Some examples are “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and “5 Little Monkeys.” For a fun animal activity, try creating your own hand game with your child based on his or her favorite animal.
The current issue of Zoobies Turtles gives you and your toddler the opportunity to explore turtles together. One of the most fascinating aspects about turtles – indeed, what sets turtles and tortoises apart from most other animals – is their shells.
Reading through Zoobies Turtles, you probably noticed all the different kinds of turtle shells there are. There are smooth shells and bumpy shells, and shells of all different colors and designs. Some turtles sleep in their shells, and others use their shells as camouflage for protection.
To continue your toddler’s Turtles experience beyond the pages of Zoobies, teach him or her the word “camouflage.” Then, find different places in your house or outside where your child might hide or sleep if she or he was a turtle. What color would their shell have to be to use camouflage in each spot?
Your latest Zoobies issue, Penguins, is a launching point for fun that can continue long after you’ve finished reading. For example, toddlers often show maternal/paternal interest in babies and animals smaller than themselves, and baby penguins are no exception. Why not have them assign names to the penguins in their issue?
Last year, the new baby penguin at the New England Aquarium was given the name “Pilchard” (which is another word for sardine, the fish penguins love to eat) after 1,664 people sent in their suggestions for a new baby penguin name. It seems a little to us like naming a child “Ice Cream,” but we don’t knock it–we can see how Pilchard may have a nice ring to it. Does it make you want to see if you can do better? What kind of inventive–and entertaining–names would a toddler come up with?
And speaking of baby penguins, we have heard that Prince William and his wife Kate were allowed to adopt a baby penguin as a wedding gift, so we are wondering if they are looking for baby penguin names, too. Maybe they would be open to suggestions!